Weekly Dish: New Restaurant from Pizzaiolo's Charlie Hallowell
Restaurateur behind Boot & Shoe Service and Pizzaiolo plans new bar & grill on Oakland's Grand Ave; Corners Tavern debuts in Walnut Creek tonight; Hot Italian opens in Emeryville; Barrel Tasting Weekend in Livermore; Rosamunde sausages headed for Oakland; and more in this week's Dish!
Charlie Hallowell, the maestro behind the molto popular Italian/California eateries Pizzaiolo and Boot & Shoe Service, has another Oakland restaurant up his sleeve. This one, a bar and grill concept, will be right across the street from the recently expanded Boot & Shoe in the former home of the Lounge Nail Spa and Boutique at 3307 Grand Avenue. According to someone with knowledge of the plans, the new restaurant will not be focused on pizza like his other two spots, and in fact might not even have Hallowell's famous wood-fired thin-crust creations on the menu at all (sorry for the misleading photo). Instead, the centerpiece of the kitchen will be a long live-wood burning grill, meaning more grilled meats and veggies, while the space will also serve as the new HQ for the overall charcuterie program. The as-of-yet-unnamed restaurant (Cuticles? Hand & Nail Service?) should feature a robust artisan cocktail program, and team Hallowell is aiming to make it a real late-night hang, meaning the goal is to stay open until last call at 2 a.m. As for a timeline, don't expect anything too soon: the project is still in its early stages and an opening could be as far off as a year away.
The wait is over at last: Corners Tavern debuts tonight in Walnut Creek. The "contemporary American tavern" concept is open for just dinner to start, with plans to start serving lunch in late April. I had a chance to attend a pre-party on Saturday and was pretty amazed by the new interior. They completely blew away any remnants of the former Bing Crosby's, opening up the dining room to the outside with a new facade featuring large, windowed garage doors, while the bar/lounge area's decor is about as eclectic as you'll find east of Berkeley/Oakland. There are plenty of stuffed animal heads, along with a cool lounge areas segmented by large dividers—each of which sports smaller glassed-in compartments featuring dioramas of various surreal scenes (see the photo of the mysteriously murdered chef at left). One quick tip: ask to take a peek into the keyhole, they'll know what I'm talking about. Anyway, if the food lives up to the decor, this should be quite the new hot spot for Walnut Creek. CLICK HERE to check out photo gallery from the party, and please comment below if you eat there: I'm curious to know what people think... 1342 Broadway Plz., Walnut Creek, (925) 948-8711,cornerstavern.com.
Another recent debut is Hot Italian, which opened just a few days ago. The Emeryville outpost of the Sacramento restaurant with the same name, Hot Italian's menu is dominated by thin-crust pizzas, calzones, and panini, along with a few salads. It's a neat-looking space, very chic-industrial-minimalist, with a bunch of communal tables in the middle, and employees sporting Italian biking hats. I had a chance to pick up a couple of pies the other day (very tasty) and met Fabrizio Cercatore (right), a co-owner and Italian-native who was busy spinning dough and working the ovens. Really nice guy who moved to Emeryville from Sacramento to help open the new restaurant: look for a Q&A sometime soon. 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville, (510) 473-7953, hotitalian.net.
Good news for East Bay diners: more than 30 Walnut Creek restaurants have signed up to participate in the city's inaugural Restaurant Week this April 16-22. Make sure to mark you calendar for special lunch and dinner deals at culinary hot spots from Sasa, Prima, and Va de Vi, to Flemings, P.F. Chang's, and The Cheesecake Factory. Go to walnutcreekrestaurantweek.com for all the details.
More big Oakland news as it looks like San Francisco's beloved sausage-centric Rosamunde (it's one of those places that has 1,200 reviews on Yelp) is opening a new location in Oakland. According to Inside Scoop, Rosamunde applied for a liquor license at 911 Washington Street, which is (was?) home to Suruki's Japanese restaurant. Suruki's was still open when I called, so this might be something that's still in the works—and I wasn't able to get a hold of anyone from Rosemunde to comment. Regardless, this would be a nice foodie score for Old Oakland, which had been experiencing a bit of a downturn, but has recently seen the debut of the super-popular Cosecha, as well as the upcoming District Wine Bar, which will replace the closed Lavende East.
Congrats to Walnut Creek's popular outpost for all things Giants, McCovey's, which announced that it will be opening a new spot at the ballpark. Look for their barbecue menu in AT&T Park's restaurant row, behind the bleachers, right below the big Coke bottle. 1444 N California Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-9444, mccoveys.com.
Speaking of which, it turns out that the owners of Patrick David's are working with Jeff Dudum (who founded McCoveys along with Bing Crosby's and Maria Maria) on their new concept for that space, Martini Sky. Co-owner Al Sisto was childhood friends with Dudum, who is helping consult on the restaurant's transition to a small plates/martini bar concept, still set to take place in mid-April.
A little "Dessert Dish" to report...
Christopher Blue's Chocolatier Blue shop on Fourth Street (he recently opened a new location in Blackhawk Plaza) has expanded it offerings. In addition to artisan chocolates, the new Chocolatier Blue Parlor will serve gourmet ice cream and ice cream based treats from new pastry chef Danyelle Forte. A graduate of the California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu who has worked at such restaurants as Adour and L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon in New York, Forte will mix up ice cream flavors like young ginger, goats milk with ennis hazelnuts, sweet lime with lemon thyme, and green apple yuzu. 1809 Fourth Street, Berkeley, (510) 665-9500, chocolatierblue.com.
Speaking of which, there are whispers that an ice cream concept could be headed for the former Erawan Thai space in downtown Walnut Creek. Stay tuned.
Livermore-ites can get their gelato fix now at the recently opened Gelateria Americana, located at the end of the Livermore Center Shopping Area on Rincon Avenue. Americana specializes on exotic flavors such as Mexican chocolate, nutella, and even Guinness. And they've got sorbetto as well... 859 Rincon Ave., Livermore, (925) 289-1831, gelateriaamericana.com.
According to Patch, Oh So Sweet candy shop opened near Togo’s on San Ramon Valley Boulevard, while an artisan bakery is coming to South Livermore Avenue this June. Tri-Valley residents Lenore Colarusso-Denoix and Richard Denoix's new French countryside-themed Casse-Croûte Bakery will serve artisan breads, croissants and other baked goods made with local organic ingredients. 50 South Livermore, Livermore, (925) 371-7700, c-bakery.com.
Don't forget about Barrel Tasting Weekend in Livermore Wine Country this Saturday and Sunday. Should be fun, more than 35 wineries are participating. CLICK HERE for more info, and CLICK HERE for a chance to win two free tickets!
FOODIE EVENTS! (compiled by our excellent intern Janet Li)
March 29: Winemakers Dinner
Join Winemaker Chris Graves at Handles Gastropub. Savor champagne poached shrimp, crispy pork belly, dry cherry stuffed lamp chops exclusively paired with Grapeful White, Reserve Chardonnay, Elevato, Cielo Viola, and Bella Gemma Port.
Handles Gastropub, 855 Main Street, Pleasanton, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., $65, (925) 399-6690, handlesgastropub.com
March 30: Ladies’ Night at Red Feather Winery
Enjoy an evening of light appetizers, wine, massages, purse shopping, and more.
Red Feather Winery, 5700 Greenville Road, Livermore, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m., $20, (925) 449-1871.
March 30: Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Theatre
Enjoy wine paired with a three-course dinner at “Squire’s Inn” while solving a crime with The Suitcase Theatre Troupe.
EBGB Underground Wine Bar at Montes,1203 Pine St., Oakland, 7:30 p.m., $50, (510) 419-0172, patpaulsenvineyards.com, brownpapertickets.com. Ages 14 and over.
March 30: 13th Annual Bay Area Seed Swap
Share a potluck dinner and swap home-grown garden seeds with fellow gardeners. Learn about seed saving classes and the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library.
Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., bring food & seeds to share or a $10 donation, ecologycenter.org.
March 31: Cheese soufflé class at Draeger’s
Create your own cheese soufflé and taste your masterpiece.
Draeger's Cooking School, 4100 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m., $40, (925) 648-5800, draegerscookingschool.com. Please check for availability.
March 31 & April 1: Barrel Tasting Weekend
Visit 35+ participating wineries in Livermore, Pleasanton, and Castro Valley to sample wine fresh out of the barrels. Buy wine futures, meet winemakers, and join in special activities.
Select your own starting winery, noon-4:30 p.m., $30 - $35, lvwine.org.
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